Fact or Fiction?: There Will Be a 2021 Excursion
When Ford contacted the United States Patent and Trademark Office and filed for the rights to the Excursion name back in April, the interest of big SUV lovers the world-over was piqued. In addition to bringing the Bronco back, is Ford planning to relaunch the largest SUV ever produced? Rumors began to stir, excitement started to grow and we decided to theorize what a 2021 version of the coveted “Ex” might be like. Surely, in keeping with the three-quarter-ton foundation employed from ’00-’05, this version would also be based on the Super Duty platform. And certainly Ford would offer a diesel option again, wouldn’t it? Imagine a Platinum trim Excursion in the modern age of gadgetry, with the 1,050 lb-ft 6.7L Power Stroke tethered to the new 10-speed TorqShift and the entire band along for the ride! You can call it speculation, but we’re calling it wishful thinking…
Why it Worked the First Time
Right when the SUV market was poised to explode in the States, the Excursion came along and appealed to folks looking for a heavy-duty, three-row people hauler. Arriving in the fall of 1999 as ’00 models, the ‘Ex tossed the GM Suburban aside, boasting the longest length (226-inches), widest (80-inches) and tallest (77-inches) SUV ever produced by any of the Big Three. It could also tow 10,000 pounds thanks to its ¾-ton Super Duty frame, suspension, axles (a solid front on 4x4 models) and of course the Class IV hitch that came standard.
Hungry For Pie
Now, some 15 years after production of the Excursion ceased in the U.S. (a limited number of ’06 models were produced for Mexico), GM has unrivaled control of the large SUV segment. But how long will GM’s dominance hold? Given the recent news of Ford attempting to trademark the Excursion name, it appears to many that the Dearborn automaker is once again interested in a piece of what is undoubtedly a very lucrative pie. After all, a new Suburban with all the bells and whistles can easily top more than $80,000.
3 Engines, Then & Now
Just as the original Excursion had been available with three different power plants (5.4L V8 Triton, 6.8L V10 Triton, and the 7.3L Power Stroke V8 diesel), a trio of engines could be on the table now. Ford’s proven 6.2L V8 gas could come standard (left), with the 7.3L V8 gasser optional (center) and the all-new 6.7L Power Stroke V8 diesel (right) offered as the premium engine.
If you’re gonna go big, it’s best to go all-out. Back in the day, Ford offered the 7.3L Power Stroke diesel V8 as its premium engine option, which yielded the best fuel economy, torque and drivability with or without a load in tow. It would make way too much sense to offer compression ignition again, wouldn’t it? This time the 6.7L Power Stroke would get the nod—the ultra-quiet, high-pressure common-rail oil-burner that, ironically enough, produces more than twice the horsepower and torque the 7.3L Power Stroke did back in 2000 (475 hp and 1,050 lb-ft vs. 235 hp and 500 lb-ft).
Give Us Godzilla
For truck guys, it would be hard to cave in for the base engine (remember, it’s the 6.2L V8 in our imaginary world) knowing that the 430hp 7.3L option was on the table. Not only is the 445 ci gas V8 the largest and most powerful in its class, but its traditional overhead valve, cam-in-block design is a nice break from all the overhead cam action we’ve seen from Ford over the years (think 1996). A cast-iron block with four-bolt mains, aluminum heads with wedge-shaped combustion chambers and hydraulic roller lifters with variable valve timing and with a single phaser has made the 7.3L gas well-received thus far in the Super Duty segment.
Just as both the 7.3L gas and 6.7L Power Stroke benefit from the new 10-speed TorqShift automatic transmission in their Super Duty iterations, the same marriage(s) would be welcome (as well as likely) on the Excursion. Called the 10R140, first gear possesses an ultra-low 4.61:1 ratio, seventh gear serves as direct and three overdrive gears are available, including a 0.632:1 ratio top gear (vs. 0.674:1 on the previous six-speed 6R140) for optimum fuel economy.
10.5 Sterling or Dana M275?
Though we would love to see the new, megalodon of SUV’s graced with the Dana M275 rear axle available on F-350’s and F-250’s equipped with Ford’s HD tow package, the odds of Ford using the 10.5 Sterling are much more likely. Sure, the 10.5-inch ring gear axle is proven and tough enough in a ¾-ton application, but it’s the same axle that was employed on the original Excursion 20 years ago. Ford, if you’re listening (and plan to keep the Excursion’s roots of largess intact), please give us the M275, with its 10.8-inch ring gear, 4-inch diameter axle tubes and 36-spline axle shafts (by comparison, the smaller Sterling sports 3.5-inch axle tubes and 35-spline axle shafts).
Coil Springs & Fully-Boxed Frame
The coil sprung front suspension aboard modern Super Duty’s is often criticized for its harsh, stiff ride, especially (and predictably) when empty. These reviews are typically prepared by car people. Trust us, in terms of ride quality the same basic suspension system Ford has employed on its trucks since ‘05 is light-years ahead of the leaf spring front-end found under all ’00-’05 model 4x4 Excursions. This time around (and provided it is indeed based on the Super Duty platform), a fully boxed frame will also be standard equipment under the Excursion. A stack of 3-inch wide leaf springs should be expected on either end of the rear axle.
As proof that our predictions have been close in the past, check out the speculative piece we put together on the 2020 Super Duty—four months before the actual numbers were released.